The legal group in Canada of Schering-Plough developed a checklist of key points and made them mandatory in employment contracts. They settled on provisions for parties, terms of the agreement, position and responsibilities, compensation, vacation entitlement/benefits, policies, and restrictive covenants. (Counsel to Counsel, July 2005 at pg. 5) Nothing surprising, but an excellent management methodology.
Place this step in a spectrum. Law departments must start by recognizing documents they prepare or review time and time again. A further step along the spectrum is to collect examples of those documents, in hard copy or, better, electronically. Next in the spectrum of increasing sophistication, they can create a checklist of key points to look for. Further, they can draft exemplars of key provisions (as did Schering) and go on to having document assembly capabilities as well as annotations to explain the key provisions, possibly with some alternative language where there is likely to be negotiation. The most sophisticated departments delegate much of this to paralegals, if not back to the client organization, and serve in a review mode for exceptional issues.
Moving along this path of standardizing, streamlining and shifting roles, a law department will find that its productivity increases, the quality of the issues it addresses increases, litigation and disputes decrease, and cycle time decreases. Not too shabby!